Studies of the Coordination Chemistry and Catalytic Activity of Rhodium and Ruthenium N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes

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Praetorius, Jeremy
Organometallic Chemistry , Catalysis , N-Heterocyclic Carbenes , Hydrogenation , Hydroformylation
The side-on dioxygen adducts of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) containing rhodium complexes, [ClRh(IPr)2(O2)] and [ClRh(IMes)2(O2)], previously synthesized in our laboratories possess a square planar geometry and O-O bond lengths of 1.323(3) and 1.341(4) Å, respectively. Both of these attributes are uncharacteristic of Rh(O2) complexes, which are typically octahedral and possess O-O bond lengths of approximately 1.45 Å. Full characterization by NMR, IR, Raman, DFT and XAS confirmed the short O-O bond lengths of these structures and revealed that they were rhodium(I) coordination complexes of singlet oxygen with no net oxidation/reduction process having taken place. The unique bonding mode appears to result from the interaction of a filled Rh d orbital with one of the two degenerate O2 * orbitals, which causes splitting of the O2 * orbitals, favoring spin pairing in the O2 HOMO, and the inability of Rh to donate electron density to the empty * orbital. Initial investigations of these complexes as catalysts for the reduction and oxidation of C-O bonds, as well as singlet oxygen generation were also undertaken. Rh(IPr)2 coordination complexes of N2, H2 and CO were also synthesized and characterized by X-ray crystallography, NMR and elemental analysis. Interestingly, the addition of hydrogen gas to rhodium did result in oxidation of the metal. A Rh(NHC) complex featuring an anionic acetate ligand, [(AcO)Rh(IPr)(CO)2], was synthesized and characterized by NMR, IR and X-ray crystallography. This complex proved to be an effective catalyst for the regioselective hydroformylation of aliphatic and aromatic alkenes, which occurred without isomerization of the alkene. Initial rates of hydroformylation with our catalyst were compared to the chloride analogue, [ClRh(IPr)(CO)2], and demonstrated the beneficial nature of replacing the halide with a carboxylate ligand, which is less inhibiting of the reaction. The synthesis of a bifunctional hydrogenation catalyst featuring a protic-NHC was attempted by addition of benzimidazoles to [Cl2Ru(diphosphine)]. Although these attempts were unsuccessful, a large number of complexes of the formula [Cl2Ru(diphosphine)(-N3-benzimidazole)2] were synthesized and proved to be effective catalysts for the chemoselective hydrogenation of ketones versus alkenes. Use of chiral diphosphines and 1-triphenylmethylbenzimidazole yielded catalysts capable of producing secondary alcohols with moderate enantioselectivity.
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